Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year’s Resolution – Is this the end?

Happy New Year!
My 2013 New Year’s resolution was as follows, ‘One diary, one drawing, every day for one year.’
 See blog posts:
 I’m pleased to say that I succeeded in creating 365 drawings inside a small A7 Moleskin diary.
Hooray! The following is a list of the stuff I’ve drawn:
snowman, beer glass, newt, chameleon, bumble bee, frog on nut, Dali clock, dragonfly, portrait of weird looking man, ear, stork scissors, zombie, netsuke, seated Buddha from Gandhara, clay skull, coal tit, telegraph pole, netsuke nut, biro pen, dormouse, ladder, predator, dark bush cricket,  row boat, bowling pin, Mona Lisa on toast, paraffin lantern, wood pigeon, cross-section of chest, typewriter, seahorse, sheep, steak, old telephone, sailing boat hotel Dubai, lobster, ball of string, tawny owl, amber spyglass, platypus, trumpet, pig, converse trainer, silver articulated fish, Inca gold lama, flying bird, walrus, grenade, cross-section of pepper, crab, egg in frying pan, light bulb, Don McCullin’s Nikon camera, tree frog, sundae, strawberry, pumpkin, gas mask, petrol can, lion, guitar, chicken, film camera, hippo, Native American mask, raven, bucket, moose, peas, key, telephone, Maya Mare God statue, raspberry, revolver, prawn, peg, flame, radiator, pinwheel, hat, lettuce, accordion, fan, Sangrada Familia, Joan Miro sculpture 1, Joan Miro sculpture 2, Cat statue, La Pedera 1, La Pedera 2, anchor, pipe, dart, electric fan, tortoise, high heel shoe, poplar leaf beetle, kestrel, ray gun, vacuum cleaner, ear of wheat, shark, wood plane, hypodermic needle, seagull, unicycle, Roy Lichtenstein Desk Calendar, copper kettle, telephone box, red lipstick, snorkelling gear, pneumatic drill, fish, hour glass, knight chess piece, penny farthing, oil can, natterjack toad, roller skate, chainsaw, ice skate, fire hydrant, zeppelin, spray paint, Van Gogh Skeleton, jelly, tin robot, arrow, cuckoo catfish, iron, budgie, pickaxe, flintlock pistol, rubber duck, JCB, spinning top, lighthouse, puffin, scarecrow, lighthouse lamp, gargoyle, wooden bird, fire extinguisher, padlock, gramophone, fox skull, mushroom, flamingo, hydraulic clamp, sarcophagus, saw, hand whisk, acorn, Georges Melies’ moon,  cassette tape, kangaroo, diamond, T-Rex, squirrel, black spotted woodpecker, wren, penguin, closed umbrella, wooden chair, folded shirt, Somerfest beast, formula one car, pheasant, electric iron, rhino, hairdryer, fox, bowler hat, pelican, blue whale, leak, ostrich, scorpion, watering can, badger, roadrunner, suitcase, blender, meerkat, Dettol, old-fashioned can opener, Friesian cow, hamburger, palm tree, window/shutters, rose, circus tent, giraffe, sunglasses, merry-go-round horse, parrot, rabbit in top hat, killer whale, catcher’s mitt, camel, bicycle, jelly baby, bat, baseball bat, vulture, ocean liner, space shuttle, hot air balloon, crocodile, stag beetle, Texan boot, polar bear, sailing boat, cat, armchair, seal, axe, sausage dog, hot dog, tennis racquet, rat, bottle of poison, wolf, baboon, duck, fountain pen, sword, false teeth, toucan, snail, scales, captain’s ship wheel, double Decker bus, oil lamp, Big Ben, sleigh, panda, quill and ink, catapult, Japanese cuttlefish hoe, mini, ladybird, push lawnmower, tap, desk lamp, electric drill, steam train, toilet, medieval helmet, squid, kingfisher, elephant, hare, swordfish, mammoth, piranha, raccoon, biplane, Easter Island head, astronaut, Henry Moore’s ‘Reclining Figure’, ant, paint pot and brushes, chimpanzee, binoculars, apple tree, beaver, peanut, wheelbarrow, kite, jade bear, apple core, shopping trolley, crane, anteater, microscope, stegosaurus, box camera, sushi, open umbrella, bison, corn, kiwi bird, prickly pear cactus, cactus, talon, poppy seed head, stingray, antelope, pomegranate, secretary bird, plug, Terry Adkins ‘Omohundro’, violin, armadillo, dice, skunk, butternut squash, staircase, hand of bananas, bears, broom, rooster, spinning wheel, wash bucket, snowy, wooden musical frog, candelabra, car tyre, bagpipes, tiger, egg and egg cup, plastic soldier, scissors, deer, tank, cockroach, strange tool, Saint Bernard, peacock, swan, Venetian mask,  pinecone, gondola, French horn, Scala Del Bovolo, sea shell, alarm clock, radio, electric guitar, poodle, praying mantis, bra, vine of tomatoes, blue jay, traffic cone, sperm whale, watermelon, picnic table, propeller, stag, chipmunk, tape measure, goggles, horseshoe crab, goat, life raft, old boot, jellyfish, singer sewing machine, dove, potato, barn owl, cheese grater, ballet shoes, dustbin, reindeer, partridge, Scottish terrier, drum, ammonite fossil, golf ball, king chess piece, wooden mouse
Apologies, at the risk of coming across a bit smug, I have to honestly say at the start of January 2013 I didn’t think I was going to realistically find the time or willpower to draw everyday for a whole year, and what started off as a ‘task for the sake of task’ became something I look forwarded to if not a bit of an obsession. Minus a few exceptions (due to illness and holidays for example, I was too scared to take it to Venice; there’s water everywhere for crying out loud!) I sometimes had to catch up with doing two or three drawings in one day to compensate, however most of the time I would dedicate around thirty minutes/an hour to draw and found it became an almost meditative discipline of stopping, sitting down, most of the time at my bed (it’s also a desk), attempting to put to one-side the thoughts/frustrations/delights of the day (ha ha, most of the time frustrations!), intensely looking at something to draw and all the challenges and difficulties it sometimes created. There were times when it wasn’t possible to concentrate, I wasn’t in the mood, I was tired (finding the time some days was a challenge in itself meaning I’d often be drawing late at night or early morning) or the thing I was attempting to draw was perhaps too difficult often sparking questions of, ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’ ‘What sort of person comes home after a stressful day at work to cook dinner, wash and draw a picnic table?!’ In a year that has been depressingly lack-lustre in the way of my own art experiences, this tiny little Moleskin was the only thing that kept me focused, hopeful and somehow retaining my ‘involvement’ in art even if I wasn’t ‘exhibiting’ or showing it anywhere. Of course I’d seen loads, heaps of art in 2013 but still yearn to create things myself. Admittedly there was some slight motivation from the thought of being able to ‘share’ some of this experience with people here on the blog (more on that at the end). I had never previously questioned how astonishingly important ‘art’ is in my life until I tried to live with its absence in the latter of 2012. I think I find it truly impossible to exist without having something creative on-the-go or at the forefront of my thoughts in the way of a blog, a drawing, a project.

I’d recommend it as a form of self-help or therapy! Ha ha, although appreciate I may not be entirely the most convincing person there! Aside from my own personal thoughts on how incredibly joyous it has been as a whole experience there’s also plenty to learn from it too, both personally and technically. Such as, how I draw, what I draw and how/or not my drawing has evolved over the course of the year.

Although... you know... all of that would only be relevant and worth reflecting on if, I don’t know... if say, that I enjoyed the last year so much and found it so useful that I was going to repeat the project for 2014 but with a bigger sketch book, different materials and more weird and wonderfulness than ever before...
Challenge accepted!
Woo-hoo! So what are the changes for 2014 as part of the ‘sketch a day’ challenge?
1) Bigger sketchbook
What did you get for Christmas? I received bigger sketchbooks (amongst other things)! I think it was hint to work bigger... I’m also going to do one sketch per page instead of double-siding my drawings as done previously.
2) New Drawing Materials
The very same sketchbook instigators also gave me inks, pens and brushes! No more excuses to work only in monochrome, it’s not going to be easy! Time to start experimenting using a bit more colour methinks and being a lot looser in my painting/drawing style. This will be a personal challenge but one worth doing as I kept my drawing style in 2013 incredibly tight as there wasn’t a lot of space per page for anything too expressive.

3) Altered mind-set on ‘what to draw’ and review on ‘how to draw it’
This will probably be the most difficult of all the new changes. Much debate and many questions were raised from the things I decided to draw in 2013, to which my rationale and answer is still the same in that, I would choose to draw things which I ‘felt’ like drawing or had never drawn before and felt somewhat, perhaps inexplicably compelled to capturing on paper because of the shape, form, texture of ‘said thing’ I was drawing. There’s a whole world of infinitely wonderful things out there to draw and at last I was liberated to draw whatever I chose without having to justify or explain myself. I think I was searching for what visually or aesthetically appeals to me personally. Sometimes one drawing would lead to an associative link to another thing to draw, i.e. pen drawing followed by sword drawing. Other times it may appear completely random and I am all-too-aware of what it all could unconsciously signify and have best avoided interpretation at the peril of my sanity. I’m pretty adamant that the things I enjoy drawing the most are things with a very distinct form, things with a very clear or solid line/edge to them such as inanimate man-made objects, buildings and occasionally, natural forms that are very structural such as pinecones. Softer, less defined more ephemeral things such as egg yolks, transparent fabric, delicate, fury or hairy things remain something of a bother to draw, in the sense I don’t particularly enjoy it and they often don’t look ‘as well drawn’ in my opinion. Intent, here is important, as one could say, what am I trying to achieve in my drawing? Am I trying for realism? Self expression? What exactly is it I am trying to do and if it isn’t realism then does it matter if the egg doesn’t ‘look’ like an egg? There are some examples within my drawings of animals such as birds and rodents (which fit into the feathered, soft and hairy category of not being enjoyable to draw) which have turned out to be quite well observed and sensitive. Does this mean they are good drawings? And, is this more important than drawing to fulfil or communicate my own personal need to draw for the sake of self expression. Ahhhhh!

I offer, what is hopefully an elegant solution. This year, I aim to draw more freely, more sketchily and loosely so that my drawings become more expressive and are therefore more representative of how I feel in response to what I am drawing than a mere illustration of it. When possible I aim to draw more from ‘life’ or from my imagination (woah, could be disturbing!) taking inspiration from events, places, things and or books. Whilst in Venice I saw the sketchbook drawings of artist, Jose Antonio Suarez Londono who drew a page-a-day based on the written diary of Franz Kafka. The resulting drawings were imaginative, elegant, in some cases surreal but above-all incredibly poignant and with a meaning and relevance that my drawings were some-what lacking. I’m hoping that by referring to text, quotes from the surplus of books I read I can use them as a source of inspiration for creating drawings/images. Occasionally I may retreat back to familiar, comforting ways of working but even in that familiarity I believe there is still room for me to improve.

  Anyway, I appreciate this may all be beginning to become incredibly self-reflective and boring for any of you reading this so I’ll end it there.  I needed to have this conversation with the internal monologue inside my head so as to reflect and prepare myself for the exciting new challenge I’ve set myself for 2014. Thanks for following its progress with me.

You will be able to pass your own critique, take delight or perhaps be thoroughly disturbed by my drawings as I will be creating a sort-of PowerPoint animation of them all to post here on the blog in the imminent future.


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